The Wang Ye are a large group of gods whose worship has spread far from their traditional home in Southeast China. Emigrants from the region have brought the belief in these gods with them everywhere from here in Taiwan to the countries of Southeast Asia. A strong faith in their ability to drive out disease and evil has made these gods indispensable to many ethnic Chinese immigrant communities, where an unfamiliar climate and poor sanitation often led to frightening epidemics. An ongoing exhibit at the National Museum of Taiwan History, "Patrolling the Realms: The Wangye Belief in Taiwan and Southeast Asia", introduces these gods and the grand ceremonies that accompany their arrival on earth.
Last week, museum researcher Chang Ying-chih explained the belief that the Wang Ye gods act as deputies of the Jade Emperor. They inspect parts of the realm once every so often, expelling plagues, answering petitions, and reporting back to the Jade Emperor on their findings. We heard how these gods arrive on land from the water, coming up from either the coast or a riverbank, and about how they are furnished with grand lodgings during their stay. Today, Ms. Chang joins us again to tell us about the busy schedule the Wang Ye gods have once they’re in the human world.